I read this quote tonight from Teaching & Much Moore and it resonated with me. Its so true! There are students that I have had, who have been completely different students to the way they were described to me. Why? because they just needed a different style of teacher, someone to understand them and connect with them on a different level.
Sometimes this doesn’t happen, students and teachers won’t like each other. As heartbreaking as it can be, they won’t learn their best with you no matter how hard you try and thats ok! I can think of one boy I taught that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make a connection and it bugged me so much! What I had to teach myself was its ok and I hope that the next year they click with their new teacher and continue to grow and learn.
On the complete flip side I have had many students put in my class because they are ‘naughty’. When I hear this my first thing to think is ok what am
I going to do to connect with this student, how can I be the best teacher for them. Sometimes they just need structure and boundaries, sometimes its a confidence boost, sometimes they need a younger teacher that makes learning more engaging with newer teaching methods, sometimes its someone to show them love. From my experience though these students have changed, they started to see themselves as learners and see me as partner in their learning journey.
A story that makes my heart warm is a little boy I had who came into my classroom at grade 2 reading at a pm level 2 (start of foundation). He was at least 12-18 months behind in all areas of the curriculum. He hated learning, he lacked confidence and hated school.
My first step to build a relationship was to build this boys confidence let him achieve success so he could start seeing himself as a leaner. We used technology to engage him, he had support from Education Support Staff and great home support. Skip 2 years ahead (as we decided that he should repeat year 2) and he was reading at a level 24 (at standard), academically in all areas he was at level and went home daily saying he loved learning and loved school!
On my last day with him for the 2 years and my last day at that school he came up to me and said “Miss Keating thanks you for changing my life and making a difference”. I teared up and gave him the biggest hug as little did he realise he really made a huge difference in mine.
I may have gone a little of topic… but just remember the difference you can make in a students life and the difference they can make in yours.
As our schools eLearning leader, I love exploring simple and new apps and thinking of creative and engaging ways to use them.
Here is a list of my go to apps how you can use them in your classroom! Some of these I have already written about so I have included the links so you can see examples of the activities!
This is one of the most versatile apps out there! You can add images, search for and add internet images, add text, edit images, backgrounds, stickers and use different fonts. The possibilities are endless with this app! I use it as a publishing tool for my students written pieces. They then email them to their parents so they can share their work. I use this app often when creating posts for our Instagram account!
A free app that comes with your iPad! I use notes as a whiteboard for my students. The simply press on the squiggly line in the corner and it comes up with a drawing page. My students can then write on it using their stylus. I use it for students to answer questions on if we are working as a class or during word work/ to practise letter formation.
I love this app! I have shared how I have used this app several times! I use it as a coding app for students to bring their written stories to life. I also use it in maths when talking about location and mapping. I get my students to code their character around a maze using directions such as left, right, up and down. They become so engaged and love it!
The possibilities are endless with this app!
Below are just some of the ways I have used it;
Bible for kids
Great Math Apps!
The following are great maths apps to use in the classroom that my students love.
Math slide This has lots of different versions which is great as it can be used in all year levels! You can use have multiple students playing against each other using the 1 iPad- which is handy if you have limited devices.
Targeting maths and Teachley Apps
Targeting maths and the Teachley apps are like having a mini teacher in an iPad. They help the students learn strategies and give explanations to help them understand a variety of mathematical concepts.
Other apps my students and I love to use in the classroom
So there you have it a sample of the apps I love and will be using in my classroom this year
After posting a photo of my classroom birthday display I had a lot of people commenting and asking where I got my Pokemon characters from!
Well I have listened and have created a pack with all 151 generation 1 Pokemon characters as editable labels.
I have also included the birthday pokeballs at the bottom of the pack if you choose to use them as your birthday display.
So click the 'Pokemon labels' link to go and download the labels.
Please send us photos of your displays as we would love to see how you are using them!
6 years ago I was in the my first year of teaching, a tough year as it is! At this time I was also dealing with being in a abusive relationship. Fast forward to 4 years later and I escaped that part of my life and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).
In the early days getting out of bed was a challenge, trying to deal with everyday stresses was a challenge but somehow teaching made it manageable. Teaching for me was an escape from my reality. I knew the drill, got to school, follow my planners, help my students achieve and be happy learners. There were moments I couldn't breath, moments where I would go into the toilets at work and cry but always I pulled myself together and went back into that classroom for those students. They made my life worth something, I was making a difference in their lives and without them knowing it they were making a difference in mine.
Each day became easier, each day I could breath a little better, each day the attacks got less server.
I decided to write this as I have come to know lots of teachers who suffer from anxiety and depression and at times struggle to come to school, just like me. It's hard it consumes you, controls you in fact and makes everyday things seem impossible and unachievable.
For me the mornings were hard, getting up and wanting to live was hard but I took that leap, when I least wanted to get up I did it. I did it for my partner, my family, my self and a huge reason was for my students!
I want other people suffering to know that its ok to feel it, its ok to not want to get up but when your having a tough day just try it once, force yourself to get up and go to work!
You will go to work and you will have most likely an average day but you will feel success because that morning you overcame all the darkness and you did it! The next time you will remember that last time and it will be easier and every time after that no matter how tough will be easier.
I know everyone is different and this is just a part of my story but school helped me, making a difference in the lives of my students helped me, in fact potentially saved me. I hope that this inspires just one person who is suffering to get up and face the day and go yes I succeed today I won against my mental illness and I can do that same tomorrow!
My school is tough, we are an extremely low socio economic area and our families struggle with daily life. Many of my students have experienced trauma at some point in their young lives, therefore causing them to be unable to self regulate or appropriately communicate their feelings. Before I begin my story there are some other details you need to know, some students come to school unwashed, without clean clothes or their lunch, majority haven’t had breakfast either. Mandatory reporting is something that some teachers will never have to experience however for our staff it is something each of us has done more than once. Many of our students don’t have people to read to, or often make their own lunch, wake themselves up and get themselves to school. Life isn’t easy for a lot of our children, how sad when they are between the ages 5-12. At the end of most days I often say ‘I would love to take them home’ by that I mean, give them a hearty dinner, clean clothes, a warm bed and above all some love.
This is where my story begins, I taught a little boy last year ‘Lewis’ (I have never taught a Lewis so lets just say that’s his name). Lewis like many of the other students has a difficult life, his mother is erratic, scattered and her behaviour at times is questionable. I have overheard the way she speaks to and about Lewis, these are things that would make a grown woman doubt her worth let alone an 8 year old boy. I developed a really positive and strong relationship with Lewis over the year I taught him. Although his behaviour became challenging at times for the most part I was able to assist him in calming down and get back on track. I made sure I took interest in his hobbies, his ‘long winded’ stories and gave him new and fun experiences like trying a passion fruit (something he told me he had tried before, but I knew he hadn’t). Lewis was always one I would go home and talk to my fiancé about, wishing that I could help make a better life for him and break the cycle. Another year came to an end and I said goodbye to my cohort from that year, including Lewis. I had my reservations about him going to the next year level and was advised he should move up with his peers.
This year didn’t start as well for Lewis, he simply didn’t adjust to his new learning area and peers. His behaviour began to escalate quickly to the point where he was becoming unsafe to himself and others around him. Lewis’ hours were decreased to half days, those days where he would come to school were often disrupted due to a having a bad start to the morning and not wanting to go to school. There was the odd day where Lewis was put in my learning area to settle down and ‘help’ the younger students, we would chat and he would help. He on almost every occasion was able to calm down and was quite happy to join in with the activities that my own students were doing. This pattern of Lewis ‘visiting’ became more and more frequent, myself and the other teacher I team teach with were a ‘safe haven’ for young Lewis and our learning area provided a calm, quiet, safe and welcoming place for him. Some mornings were particularly bad for Lewis and he would come to school requesting to come to our learning area rather than his own, of course I didn’t mind at all because I knew he would be calm, happy and safe with us.
One particular morning Lewis came to school unfed, agitated and tired, he had asked to come into our learning community for the morning. Lewis asked to complete jobs and then when he was calm I took him to get breakfast, it was here another staff member asked why he liked being with Miss Graham in the mornings. His response was the following, ‘it is quiet in there and the work is easy’, when he was asked if it had anything to do with myself he said it was because I was nice and happy. I had a giggle and told him to come back to my room when he was ready; he came back happy and full. Unfortunately Lewis had to have a conversation with the principal regarding his behaviour and an incident with another student, Lewis lost it. He swore, threw chairs and lost control of his feelings going from 0-10 in a matter of seconds, we both took Lewis by the hand and walked him back into my learning area where he was still frustrated and angry. (We held his hands because he often runs and tries to leave the school when angry as he has the tendency of ‘fight or flight’). When back into the learning area I asked him if he was feeling better, (still holding his hand) he said no, (I was barely holding his hand now however Lewis still had a firm grip on mine) I asked him if he would like to sit in our ‘chill out space’ to calm down and I offered to sit with him. He liked that idea so we both sat on the floor next to one another, it was at this moment Lewis wriggled next to me so my arm was almost around him like a hug- yes I know this is not something that a ‘teacher should do’ and I would not recommend doing such a thing but how can you move away from a child that simply wants some love and to feel safe. I did not move and we sat like that in the learning area for 15 or so minutes, I sat there thinking this is what Lewis needs in this moment, he receives no love, attention, interest from his mother or family how could I walk away in this moment of need because this isn't what a teacher 'should do'? What is his life going to be like in another 10 years? Until Lewis felt calm and ready to move away we stayed sitting on the floor. Later that day I spoke with a teacher who had witnessed what had happened, she too had said it broke her heart and that he obviously felt comfortable and safe with me because we are constant for him, always there, never changing.
I went home that night with a bundle of mixed emotions, part of me wanting to adopt Lewis (his horrible behaviours all and) simply to give him a better life, I also thought about the fact that teaching is much more than the curriculum, who would ever prepare you for these moments. Lastly I thought about passion fruits, can they really make a difference, and by that I mean with the entire world ‘against’ Lewis can I be the teacher that he looks back and fondly remembers? Can I be the good in the bad of his schooling? The adult that showed genuine interest in him as a person and believed in him? Will he remember the first time he tasted a passion fruit that he now loves?
I know many students touch our lives, come and go, bring smiles to our faces but there are the ones like Lewis that break your heart, make you want to change the world and make you hope that you are not only the best teacher but best person you can be. I think a passion fruit can make a difference...
Teaching is hard. It's emotionally and physically draining. You give it all you have and it still asks for more. Only a teacher can understand how challenging it truly is.
Some days you come home and you cry. You cry because you think you've failed your students, because another staff member made a comment about your classroom not being perfect, because a parent yelled at you and complained about something not worth complaining about, the school politics are frustrating you, you have a to do list a mile long that only gets bigger! Teaching is never ending. It's not a 9-5 switch off job. Teaching is a lifestyle and it can be a tough one.
There are times when I'm ready to give it all up. Go and get a 9-5 switch off after work job and just be done with it. But when I see those beautiful little faces excited to see me, wanting to learn and wanting to come to school because I'm their teacher, all that negative thinking melts away cause they are the reason I teach, my students and the difference I can make in their lives is why I teach.
I really love teaching. It is the most amazing career and I love the moments that make it all worth while, the student having a lightbulb moment, the excitement of their achievements, the praise from a parent whose child wants to come to school, my students laughter, the amazing connections you make with those 25 beautiful people who for a least a year are a huge part of your life.
So I guess this post is just about saying it's ok to feel exhausted, overwhelmed and just crabby after a long day, week, term you're not the only one! Teaching is really hard but it's magically rewarding!
It's finally ready! Here is the link to our QR library version 3.
Please continue to share with us what your students think and feel free to give us some suggestions of books you may like. We are about to start progress on Version 4! Find links to version 1 & 2 below.
I love QR codes! I use them for so much and my students love them!
I use the website www.qrstuff.com to create all my QR codes.
So here is 5 ways I have used QR codes and links for you to use them too!
1. To give students websites.
Instead of asking students to type in a website I simply create a QR code for them to scan and within 1 minute my students are all on the correct website- no typos and no Miss Keating it didn't work!
2. To listen to books.
I have a QR code library wall in my classroom that students can scan and listen to stories from the Two Teachers One Blog YouTube channel or www.storylineonline.org
My students are constantly asking if they can scan a book to listen too.
Recently our Prep teachers created folders with them for their reading stations.
3. As a way to engage my students
We recently did a lesson on Authors Purpose. In the past (in a device free classroom) I would give students different books and ask them to find the purpose or alternatively give them images of books and have them sort and glue them into their books under the headings Persuade, Inform or Entertain.
This time I gave my students QR codes and they scanned them and then circled the answer on their sheet. They got double the work done and there were less behaviour issues or students saying I don't get it.
4. QR Code Trivia
As eLearning co-ordinator I have been lucky enough to have been given time in each classroom, in my school, from P-6 to help introduce students to different ways of using technology.
As an introduction activity to QR codes, I created a QR code Trivia hunt for the 3-6 students. Needless to say they loved it and were engaged and able to complete the tasks independently.
5. In school newsletters
So this isn't exactly in the classroom but I have put QR codes into our school newsletter to link to storybooks for our students to listen to at home.
I have also used them to give parents easy access to website links, forms or extra information that couldn't fit in a normal newsletter. All parents need is a QR code app on a smartphone or tablet and they are set!
I hope this has given you some inspiration as to how you can use QR codes in your classroom to engage your students in their learning.
We have been looking at retelling. This week we created retelling movies of the Three Little Pigs using the app iMovie. Students were read a version of the story and given finger puppets.
In groups, they had to create a story board of their version of the story. Then create the set and film it. They then added the movies into iMovie and added sound effects and music.
My students were so engaged and so proud of their achievement. As a teacher I took a back seat and let my students find out how to use iMovie with limited assistance. I wanted them to explore the app and find out for themselves how to make things better. I didn't teach them much about how to film correctly either as I wanted them to see what good and bad filming was and how they could fix it. This for me proved to be highly effective and my students got so much more out of the week than I had anticipated.